Belgium: Fifty thousand demonstrate against Cockerill closure

Yesterday some 50,000 demonstrated in Liège against the closure of Cockerill, a steel company owned by the multinational Arcelor. It was the biggest demonstration in Liège since the general strike of 1960-61. Besides thousands of steelworkers there also were groups of workers from about every factory or company in the area, including bankworkers, teachers, council workers,… and students.

Many workers in Liège went on strike and most shops were closed. During the demo there was a regional strike which is important to build a relation of forces.

Unfortunately the trade union leaders rather saw the demo as the end of a struggle instead of the beginning. One of them said the unions "wouldn’t accept a second Cockerill". Does this mean they do accept the first one?

The mood at the demo however was militant. Politicians ready to speak from the platform couldn’t do this because of opposition from the workers.

LSP/MAS was present at the demo and distributed 2,000 leaflets calling for the nationalisation without compensation and under workers control, a demand which was enthusiastically received by the demonstrators. We sold 138 copies of our paper ‘Alternative Socialiste’ and held a short meeting after the demo.

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March 2003